Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT
Our Cosmic Neighborhood
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Our Cosmic Neighborhood

January 10, 2013
Due to the protective shielding of dangerous Galactic Cosmic Rays provided by a heliosphere or astrosphere, these structures are important for the planets that orbit the respective stars. Only over the last 15 years, we have been able to detect the first astrospheres and planets around other stars (exoplanets). Graphic of the most immediate environment around the Sun, our cosmic neighborhood. The locations of known astrospheres and exoplanets are indicated, while we anticipate that many more are present and just awaiting discovery. The nearest star, alpha Centauri has an astrosphere, and we know of at least two cases where we have detected both an astrosphere and exoplanets. These systems are truly analogous to our system in which the heliosphere shields a diverse planetary system. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Adler/U. Chicago/Wesleyan